The SCO & Peter Dijkstra - Handel’s Solomon, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
And it was in teasing apart Handel’s extravagant writing that Dutch conductor Peter Dijkstra proved so brilliantly adept, his contained yet determined gestures drawing wonderfully balanced, expertly shaped playing from the SCO strings, wind and brass, all on incisive form. There was an ease and transparency to Dijkstra’s account that found an ideal match in his compatriot Maarten Engeltjes in the work’s title role, his countertenor not always huge, but ringing nevertheless with an astonishing purity and directness. Tenor Joshua Ellicott made a nimble, lyrical Zadok; soprano Anna Dennis was rich-toned as the visiting Queen of Sheba; and the SCO Chorus was on exceptionally strong, confident form, elegantly self-dividing into two separate groups for Handel’s double-chorus sections.
But however lavish its evocations, with its three essentially static tableaux, you could hardly accuse Solomon of being overly dramatic. And however exquisite Dijkstra’s account, it could probably have done with a little more edge and bite to point up what little storytelling there is in the work. It was a sumptuous, carefully considered performance, but one that felt at times a little restrained.